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The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

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Philosophy of Furniture
A Tale of Jerusalem
The Sphinx
Hop Frog
The Man of the Crowd
Never Bet the Devill Your Head
Thou Art the Man
Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling
Some words with a Mummy
The Poetic Principle
Old English Poetry



Poems of Later Life

The Raven
The Bells
To Helen
Annabel Lee
A Valentine
An Enigma
To my Mother
For Annie
To F----
To Frances S. Osgood
A Dream within a Dream
To Marie Louise (Shew)
To the Same
The City in the Sea
The Sleeper
Bridal Ballad

Poems of Manhood

To One in Paradise
The Coliseum
The Haunted Palace
The Conqueror Worm
To Zante
Scenes from "Politian"

Poems of Youth

Introduction (1831)
Sonnet--To Science
Al Aaraaf
To Helen
The Valley of Unrest
To -- ("The Bowers Whereat, in Dreams I See")
To -- ("I Heed not That my Earthly Lot")
To the River --
A Dream
The Lake To--
"The Happiest Day"
Hymn. Translation from the Greek
"In Youth I Have Known One"
A Paean

Doubtful Poems

To Isadore
The Village Street
The Forest Reverie


In the internal decoration, if not in the external architecture of
their residences, the English are supreme. The Italians have but little
sentiment beyond marbles and colours. In France, _meliora probant,
deteriora _sequuntur - the people are too much a race of gadabouts to
maintain those household proprieties of which, indeed, they have a
delicate appreciation, or at least the elements of a proper sense. The
Chinese and most of the eastern races have a warm but inappropriate fancy.
The Scotch are _poor _decorists. The Dutch have, perhaps, an indeterminate
idea that a curtain is not a cabbage. In Spain they are _all _curtains - a
nation of hangmen. The Russians do not furnish. The Hottentots and
Kickapoos are very well in their way. The Yankees alone are preposterous.

How this happens, it is not difficult to see. We have no aristocracy
of blood, and having therefore as a natural, and indeed as an inevitable
thing, fashioned for ourselves an aristocracy of dollars, the _display of
wealth _has here to take the place and perform the office of the heraldic
display in monarchical countries. By a transition readily understood, and
which might have been as readily foreseen, we have been brought to merge
in simple _show _our notions of taste itself

To speak less abstractly. In England, for example, no mere parade of
costly appurtenances would be so likely as with us, to create an
impression of the beautiful in respect to the appurtenances themselves -
or of taste as regards the proprietor: - this for the reason, first, that
wealth is not, in England, the loftiest object of ambition as constituting
a nobility; and secondly, that there, the true nobility of blood,
confining itself within the strict limits of legitimate taste, rather
avoids than affects that mere costliness in which a _parvenu _rivalry may
at any time be successfully attempted.

The people _will _imitate the nobles, and the result is a thorough
diffusion of the proper feeling. But in America, the coins current being
the sole arms of the aristocracy, their display may be said, in general,
to be the sole means of the aristocratic distinction; and the populace,
looking always upward for models,,are insensibly led to confound the two
entirely separate ideas of magnificence and beauty. In short, the cost of
an article of furniture has at length come to be, with us, nearly the sole
test of its merit in a decorative point of view - and this test, once
established, has led the way to many analogous errors, readily traceable
to the one primitive folly.

There could be nothing more directly offensive to the eye of an artist
than the interior of what is termed in the United States - that is to say,
in Appallachia - a well-furnished apartment. Its most usual defect is a
want of keeping. We speak of the keeping of a room as we would of the
keeping of a picture - for both the picture and the room are amenable to
those undeviating principles which regulate all varieties of art; and very
nearly the same laws by which we decide on the higher merits of a
painting, suffice for decision on the adjustment of a chamber.

A want of keeping is observable sometimes in the character of the
several pieces of furniture, but generally in their colours or modes of
adaptation to use _Very _often the eye is offended by their inartistic
arrangement. Straight lines are too prevalent - too uninterruptedly
continued - or clumsily interrupted at right angles. If curved lines
occur, they are repeated into unpleasant uniformity. By undue precision,
the appearance of many a fine apartment is utterly spoiled.

Curtains are rarely well disposed, or well chosen in respect to other
decorations. With formal furniture, curtains are out of place; and an
extensive volume of drapery of any kind is, under any circumstance,
irreconcilable with good taste - the proper quantum, as well as the proper
adjustment, depending upon the character of the general effect.

Carpets are better understood of late than of ancient days, but we
still very frequently err in their patterns and colours. The soul of the
apartment is the carpet. From it are deduced not only the hues but the
forms of all objects incumbent. A judge at common law may be an ordinary
man; a good judge of a carpet _must be _a genius. Yet we have heard
discoursing of carpets, with the air "_d'un mouton qui reve," _fellows who
should not and who could not be entrusted with the management of their own
_moustaches. _Every one knows that a large floor _may _have a covering of
large figures, and that a small one must have a covering of small - yet
this is not all the knowledge in the world. As regards texture, the Saxony
is alone admissible. Brussels is the preterpluperfect tense of fashion,
and Turkey is taste in its dying agonies. Touching pattern - a carpet
should _not _be bedizzened out like a Riccaree Indian - all red chalk,
yellow ochre, and cock's feathers. In brief - distinct grounds, and vivid
circular or cycloid figures, _of no meaning, _are here Median laws. The
abomination of flowers, or representations of well-known objects of any
kind, should not be endured within the limits of Christendom. Indeed,
whether on carpets, or curtains, or tapestry, or ottoman coverings, all
upholstery of this nature should be rigidly Arabesque. As for those
antique floor-cloth & still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the
rabble - cloths of huge, sprawling, and radiating devises,
stripe-interspersed, and glorious with all hues, among which no ground is
intelligible-these are but the wicked invention of a race of time-servers
and money-lovers - children of Baal and worshippers of Mammon - Benthams,
who, to spare thought and economize fancy, first cruelly invented the
Kaleidoscope, and then established joint-stock companies to twirl it by

_ Glare is _a leading error in the philosophy of American household
decoration - an error easily recognised as deduced from the perversion of
taste just specified., We are violently enamoured of gas and of glass. The
former is totally inadmissible within doors. Its harsh and unsteady light
offends. No one having both brains and eyes will use it. A mild, or what
artists term a cool light, with its consequent warm shadows, will do
wonders for even an ill-furnished apartment. Never was a more lovely
thought than that of the astral lamp. We mean, of course, the astral lamp
proper - the lamp of Argand, with its original plain ground-glass shade,
and its tempered and uniform moonlight rays. The cut-glass shade is a weak
invention of the enemy. The eagerness with which we have adopted it,
partly on account of its _flashiness, _but principally on account of its
_greater rest, is _a good commentary on the proposition with which we
began. It is not too much to say, that the deliberate employer of a
cut-glass shade, is either radically deficient in taste, or blindly
subservient to the caprices of fashion. The light proceeding from one of
these gaudy abominations is unequal broken, and painful. It alone is
sufficient to mar a world of good effect in the furniture subjected to its
influence. Female loveliness, in especial, is more than one-half
disenchanted beneath its evil eye.

In the matter of glass, generally, we proceed upon false principles.
Its leading feature is _glitter - _and in that one word how much of all
that is detestable do we express ! Flickering, unquiet lights, are
_sometimes _pleasing - to children and idiots always so - but in the
embellishment of a room they should be scrupulously avoided. In truth,
even strong _steady _lights are inadmissible. The huge and unmeaning glass
chandeliers, prism-cut, gas-lighted, and without shade, which dangle in
our most fashionable drawing-rooms, may be cited as the quintessence of
all that is false in taste or preposterous in folly.

The rage for _glitter-_because its idea has become as we before
observed, confounded with that of magnificence in the abstract-has led us,
also, to the exaggerated employment of mirrors. We line our dwellings with
great British plates, and then imagine we have done a fine thing. Now the
slightest thought will be sufficient to convince any one who has an eye at
all, of the ill effect of numerous looking-glasses, and especially of
large ones. Regarded apart from its reflection, the mirror presents a
continuous, flat, colourless, unrelieved surface, - a thing always and
obviously unpleasant. Considered as a reflector, it is potent in producing
a monstrous and odious uniformity: and the evil is here aggravated, not in
merely direct proportion with the augmentation of its sources, but in a
ratio constantly increasing. In fact, a room with four or five mirrors
arranged at random, is, for all purposes of artistic show, a room of no
shape at all. If we add to this evil, the attendant glitter upon glitter,
we have a perfect farrago of discordant and displeasing effects. The
veriest bumpkin, on entering an apartment so bedizzened, would be
instantly aware of something wrong, although he might be altogether unable
to assign a cause for his dissatisfaction. But let the same person be led
into a room tastefully furnished, and he would be startled into an
exclamation of pleasure and surprise.

It is an evil growing out of our republican institutions, that here a
man of large purse has usually a very little soul which he keeps in it.
The corruption of taste is a portion or a pendant of the dollar-manufac
sure. As we grow rich, our ideas grow rusty. It is, therefore, not among
_our _aristocracy that we must look (if at all, in Appallachia), for the
spirituality of a British _boudoir. _But we have seen apartments in the
tenure of Americans of moderns [possibly "modest" or "moderate"] means,
which, in negative merit at least, might vie with any of the _or-molu'd
_cabinets of our friends across the water. Even _now_, there is present to
our mind's eye a small and not, ostentatious chamber with whose
decorations no fault can be found. The proprietor lies asleep on a sofa -
the weather is cool - the time is near midnight: arc will make a sketch of
the room during his slumber.

It is oblong - some thirty feet in length and twenty-five in breadth -
a shape affording the best(ordinary) opportunities for the adjustment of
furniture. It has but one door - by no means a wide one - which is at one
end of the parallelogram, and but two windows, which are at the other.
These latter are large, reaching down to the floor - have deep recesses -
and open on an Italian _veranda. _Their panes are of a crimson-tinted
glass, set in rose-wood framings, more massive than usual. They are
curtained within the recess, by a thick silver tissue adapted to the shape
of the window, and hanging loosely in small volumes. Without the recess
are curtains of an exceedingly rich crimson silk, fringed with a deep
network of gold, and lined with silver tissue, which is the material of
the exterior blind. There are no cornices; but the folds of the whole
fabric (which are sharp rather than massive, and have an airy appearance),
issue from beneath a broad entablature of rich giltwork, which encircles
the room at the junction of the ceiling and walls. The drapery is thrown
open also, or closed, by means of a thick rope of gold loosely enveloping
it, and resolving itself readily into a knot; no pins or other such
devices are apparent. The colours of the curtains and their fringe - the
tints of crimson and gold - appear everywhere in profusion, and determine
the _character _of the room. The carpet - of Saxony material - is quite
half an inch thick, and is of the same crimson ground, relieved simply by
the appearance of a gold cord (like that festooning the curtains) slightly
relieved above the surface of the _ground, _and thrown upon it in such a
manner as to form a succession of short irregular curves - one
occasionally overlaying the other. The walls are prepared with a glossy
paper of a silver gray tint, spotted with small Arabesque devices of a
fainter hue of the prevalent crimson. Many paintings relieve the expanse
of paper. These are chiefly landscapes of an imaginative cast-such as the
fairy grottoes of Stanfield, or the lake of the Dismal Swamp of Chapman.
There are, nevertheless, three or four female heads, of an ethereal
beauty-portraits in the manner of Sully. The tone of each picture is warm,
but dark. There are no "brilliant effects." _Repose _speaks in all. Not
one is of small size. Diminutive paintings give that _spotty _look to a
room, which is the blemish of so many a fine work of Art overtouched. The
frames are broad but not deep, and richly carved, without being _dulled
_or filagreed. They have the whole lustre of burnished gold. They lie flat
on the walls, and do not hang off with cords. The designs themselves are
often seen to better advantage in this latter position, but the general
appearance of the chamber is injured. But one mirror - and this not a very
large one - is visible. In shape it is nearly circular - and it is hung so
that a reflection of the person can be obtained from it in none of the
ordinary sitting-places of the room. Two large low sofas of rosewood and
crimson silk, gold-flowered, form the only seats, with the exception of
two light conversation chairs, also of rose-wood. There is a pianoforte
(rose-wood, also), without cover, and thrown open. An octagonal table,
formed altogether of the richest gold-threaded marble, is placed near one
of the sofas. This is also without cover - the drapery of the curtains has
been thought sufficient.. Four large and gorgeous Sevres vases, in which
bloom a profusion of sweet and vivid flowers, occupy the slightly rounded
angles of the room. A tall candelabrum, bearing a small antique lamp with
highly perfumed oil, is standing near the head of my sleeping friend. Some
light and graceful hanging shelves, with golden edges and crimson silk
cords with gold tassels, sustain two or three hundred magnificently bound
books. Beyond these things, there is no furniture, if we except an Argand
lamp, with a plain crimson-tinted ground glass shade, which depends from
He lofty vaulted ceiling by a single slender gold chain, and throws a
tranquil but magical radiance over all.

~~~ End Of Text ~~~



Intensos rigidarn in frontern ascendere canos

Passus erat----

_ -Lucan--De Catone_

---a bristly _bore._


LET us hurry to the walls," said Abel-Phittim to Buzi-Ben-Levi and Simeon
the Pharisee, on the tenth day of the month Thammuz, in the year of the
world three thousand nine hundred and fortyone--let us hasten to the
ramparts adjoining the gate of Benjamin, which is in the city of David,
and overlooking the camp of the uncircumcised; for it is the last hour of
the fourth watch, being sunrise; and the idolaters, in fulfilment of the
promise of Pompey, should be awaiting us with the lambs for the

Simeon, Abel-Phittim, and Duzi-Ben-Levi were the Gizbarim, or
sub-collectors of the offering, in the holy city of Jerusalem.

"Verily," replied the Pharisee; "let us hasten: for this generosity in the
heathen is unwonted; and fickle-mindedness has ever been an attribute of
the worshippers of Baal."

"'That they are fickle-minded and treacherous is as true as the
Pentateuch," said Buzi-Ben-Levi, "but that is only toward the people of
Adonai. When was it ever known that the Ammonites proved wanting to their
own interests? Methinks it is no great stretch of generosity to allow us
lambs for the altar of the Lord, receiving in lieu thereof thirty silver
shekels per head !"

"Thou forgettest, however, Ben-Levi," replied Abel-Phittim, "that the
Roman Pompey, who is now impiously besieging the city of the Most High,
has no assurity that we apply not the lambs thus purchased for the altar,
to the sustenance of the body, rather than of the spirit."

"Now, by the five corners of my beard!" shouted the Pharisee, who belonged
to the sect called The Dashers (that little knot of saints whose manner of
_dashing _and lacerating the feet against the pavement was long a thorn
and a reproach to less zealous devotees-a stumbling-block to less gifted
perambulators)--"by the five corners of that beard which, as a priest, I
am forbidden to shave !-have we lived to see the day when a blaspheming
and idolatrous upstart of Rome shall accuse us of appropriating to the
appetites of the flesh the most holy and consecrated elements? Have we
lived to see the day when---"'

"Let us not question the motives of the Philistine," interrupted
Abel-Phittim' "for to-day we profit for the first time by his avarice or
by his generosity; but rather let us hurry to the ramparts, lest offerings
should be wanting for that altar whose fire the rains of heaven can not
extinguish, and whose pillars of smoke no tempest can turn aside."

That part of the city to which our worthy Gizbarim now hastened, and which
bore the name of its architect, King David, was esteemed the most strongly
fortified district of Jerusalem; being situated upon the steep and lofty
hill of Zion. Here, a broad, deep, circumvallatory trench, hewn from the
solid rock, was defended by a wall of great strength erected upon its
inner edge. This wall was adorned, at regular interspaces, by square
towers of white marble; the lowest sixty, and the highest one hundred and
twenty cubits- in height. But, in the vicinity of the gate of Benjamin,
the wall arose by no means from the margin of the fosse. On the contrary,
between the level of the ditch and the basement of the rampart sprang up a
perpendicular cliff of two hundred and fifty cubits, forming part of the
precipitous Mount Moriah. So that when Simeon and his associates arrived
on the summit of the tower called Adoni-Bezek-the loftiest of all the
turrets around about Jerusalem, and the usual place of conference with the
besieging army-they looked down upon the camp of the enemy from an
eminence excelling by many feet that of the Pyramid of Cheops, and, by
several, that of the temple of Belus.

"Verily," sighed the Pharisee, as he peered dizzily over the precipice,
"the uncircumcised are as the sands by the seashore-as the locusts in the
wilderness! The valley of the King hath become the valley of Adommin."

"And yet," added Ben-Levi, "thou canst not point me out a Philistine-no,
not one-from Aleph to Tau-from the wilderness to the battlements---who
seemeth any bigger than the letter Jod!"

"Lower away the basket with the shekels of silver!" here shouted a Roman
soldier in a hoarse, rough voice, which appeared to issue from the regions
of Pluto---"lower away the basket with the accursed coin which it has
broken the jaw of a noble Roman to pronounce! Is it thus you evince your
gratitude to our master Pompeius, who, in his condescension, has thought
fit to listen to your idolatrous importunities? The god Phoebus, who is a
true god, has been charioted for an hour-and were you not to be on the
ramparts by sunrise? Aedepol! do you think that we, the conquerors of the
world, have nothing better to do than stand waiting by the walls of every
kennel, to traffic with the dogs of the earth? Lower away! I say--and see
that your trumpery be bright in color and just in weight!"

"El Elohim!" ejaculated the Pharisee, as the discordant tones of the
centurion rattled up the crags of the precipice, and fainted away against
the temple -"El Elohim!--who is the god Phoebus?--whom doth the blasphemer
invoke? Thou, Buzi-BenLevi! who art read in the laws of the Gentiles, and
hast sojourned among them who dabble with the Teraphim!--is it Nergal of
whom the idolater speaketh?----or Ashimah?--or Nibhaz,--or Tartak? --or
Adramalech?--or Anamalech?--or Succoth-Benith?---or Dagon?---or
Belial?---or Baal-Perith? -or Baal-Peor?---or Baal-Zebub?"

"Verily it is neither-but beware how thou lettest the rope slip too
rapidly through thy fingers; for should the wicker-work chance to hang on
the projection of Yonder crag, there will be a woful outpouring of the
holy things of the sanctuary."

By the assistance of some rudely constructed machinery, the heavily laden
basket was now carefully lowered down among the multitude; and, from the
giddy pinnacle, the Romans were seen gathering confusedly round it; but
owing to the vast height and the prevalence of a fog, no distinct view of
their operations could be obtained.

Half an hour had already elapsed.

"We shall be too late!" sighed the Pharisee, as at the expiration of this
period he looked over into the abyss-"we shall be too late! we shall be
turned out of office by the Katholim."

"No more," responded Abel-Phittim----"no more shall we feast upon the fat
of the land-no longer shall our beards be odorous with frankincense--our
loins girded up with fine linen from the Temple."

"Racal" swore Ben-Levi, "Racal do they mean to defraud us of the purchase
money? or, Holy Moses ! are they weighing the shekels of the tabernacle ?"

"They have given the signal at last!" cried the Pharisee-----"they have
given the signal at last!pull away, Abel-Phittim!-and thou, Buzi-Ben-Levi,
pull away!-for verily the Philistines have either still hold upon the
basket, or the Lord hath softened their hearts to place therein a beast of
good weight!" And the Gizbarim pulled away, while their burden swung
heavily upward through the still increasing mist.

"Booshoh he!"-as, at the conclusion of an hour, some object at the
extremity of the rope became indistinctly visible-"Booshoh he!" was the
exclamation which burst from the lips of Ben-Levi.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Booshoh he!--for shame!-it is a ram from the thickets of Engedi, and as
rugged as the valley of jehosaphat!"

"It is a firstling of the flock," said Abel-Phittim, "I know him by the
bleating of his lips, and the innocent folding of his limbs. His eyes are
more beautiful than the jewels of the Pectoral, and his flesh is like the
honey of Hebron."

"It is a fatted calf from the pastures of Bashan," said the Pharisee, "the
heathen have dealt wonderfully with us ----let us raise up our voices in a
psalm --let us give thanks on the shawm and on the psaltery-on the harp
and on the huggab-on the cythern and on the sackbut!"

It was not until the basket had arrived within a few feet of the Gizbarim
that a low grunt betrayed to their perception a hog of no common size.

"Now El Emanu!" slowly and with upturned eyes ejaculated the trio, as,
letting go their hold, the emancipated porker tumbled headlong among the
Philistines, "El Emanu!-God be with us---it is _the unutterable flesh!"_

~~~~~~ End of Text ~~~~~~



DURING the dread reign of the Cholera in New York, I had accepted the
invitation of a relative to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement
of his _cottage ornee_ on the banks of the Hudson. We had here around us
all the ordinary means of summer amusement; and what with rambling in the
woods, sketching, boating, fishing, bathing, music, and books, we should
have passed the time pleasantly enough, but for the fearful intelligence
which reached us every morning from the populous city. Not a day elapsed
which did not bring us news of the decease of some acquaintance. Then as
the fatality increased, we learned to expect daily the loss of some
friend. At length we trembled at the approach of every messenger. The very
air from the South seemed to us redolent with death. That palsying
thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I could neither speak,
think, nor dream of any thing else. My host was of a less excitable
temperament, and, although greatly depressed in spirits, exerted himself
to sustain my own. His richly philosophical intellect was not at any time
affected by unrealities. To the substances of terror he was sufficiently
alive, but of its shadows he had no apprehension.

His endeavors to arouse me from the condition of abnormal gloom into which
I had fallen, were frustrated, in great measure, by certain volumes which
I had found in his library. These were of a character to force into
germination whatever seeds of hereditary superstition lay latent in my
bosom. I had been reading these books without his knowledge, and thus he
was often at a loss to account for the forcible impressions which had been
made upon my fancy.

A favorite topic with me was the popular belief in omens -- a belief
which, at this one epoch of my life, I was almost seriously disposed to
defend. On this subject we had long and animated discussions -- he
maintaining the utter groundlessness of faith in such matters, -- I
contending that a popular sentiment arising with absolute spontaneity-
that is to say, without apparent traces of suggestion -- had in itself the
unmistakable elements of truth, and was entitled to as much respect as
that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of genius.

The fact is, that soon after my arrival at the cottage there had occurred
to myself an incident so entirely inexplicable, and which had in it so
much of the portentous character, that I might well have been excused for
regarding it as an omen. It appalled, and at the same time so confounded
and bewildered me, that many days elapsed before I could make up my mind
to communicate the circumstances to my friend.

Near the close of exceedingly warm day, I was sitting, book in hand, at an
open window, commanding, through a long vista of the river banks, a view
of a distant hill, the face of which nearest my position had been denuded
by what is termed a land-slide, of the principal portion of its trees. My
thoughts had been long wandering from the volume before me to the gloom
and desolation of the neighboring city. Uplifting my eyes from the page,
they fell upon the naked face of the bill, and upon an object -- upon some
living monster of hideous conformation, which very rapidly made its way
from the summit to the bottom, disappearing finally in the dense forest
below. As this creature first came in sight, I doubted my own sanity -- or
at least the evidence of my own eyes; and many minutes passed before I
succeeded in convincing myself that I was neither mad nor in a dream. Yet
when I described the monster (which I distinctly saw, and calmly surveyed
through the whole period of its progress), my readers, I fear, will feel
more difficulty in being convinced of these points than even I did myself.

Estimating the size of the creature by comparison with the diameter of the
large trees near which it passed -- the few giants of the forest which had
escaped the fury of the land-slide -- I concluded it to be far larger than
any ship of the line in existence. I say ship of the line, because the
shape of the monster suggested the idea- the hull of one of our
seventy-four might convey a very tolerable conception of the general
outline. The mouth of the animal was situated at the extremity of a
proboscis some sixty or seventy feet in length, and about as thick as the
body of an ordinary elephant. Near the root of this trunk was an immense
quantity of black shaggy hair- more than could have been supplied by the
coats of a score of buffaloes; and projecting from this hair downwardly
and laterally, sprang two gleaming tusks not unlike those of the wild
boar, but of infinitely greater dimensions. Extending forward, parallel
with the proboscis, and on each side of it, was a gigantic staff, thirty
or forty feet in length, formed seemingly of pure crystal and in shape a
perfect prism, -- it reflected in the most gorgeous manner the rays of the
declining sun. The trunk was fashioned like a wedge with the apex to the
earth. From it there were outspread two pairs of wings- each wing nearly
one hundred yards in length -- one pair being placed above the other, and
all thickly covered with metal scales; each scale apparently some ten or
twelve feet in diameter. I observed that the upper and lower tiers of
wings were connected by a strong chain. But the chief peculiarity of this
horrible thing was the representation of a Death's Head, which covered
nearly the whole surface of its breast, and which was as accurately traced
in glaring white, upon the dark ground of the body, as if it had been
there carefully designed by an artist. While I regarded the terrific
animal, and more especially the appearance on its breast, with a feeling
or horror and awe -- with a sentiment of forthcoming evil, which I found
it impossible to quell by any effort of the reason, I perceived the huge
jaws at the extremity of the proboscis suddenly expand themselves, and
from them there proceeded a sound so loud and so expressive of wo, that it
struck upon my nerves like a knell and as the monster disappeared at the
foot of the hill, I fell at once, fainting, to the floor.

Upon recovering, my first impulse, of course, was to inform my friend of
what I had seen and heard -- and I can scarcely explain what feeling of
repugnance it was which, in the end, operated to prevent me.

At length, one evening, some three or four days after the occurrence, we
were sitting together in the room in which I had seen the apparition -- I
occupying the same seat at the same window, and he lounging on a sofa near
at hand. The association of the place and time impelled me to give him an
account of the phenomenon. He heard me to the end -- at first laughed
heartily -- and then lapsed into an excessively grave demeanor, as if my
insanity was a thing beyond suspicion. At this instant I again had a
distinct view of the monster- to which, with a shout of absolute terror, I
now directed his attention. He looked eagerly -- but maintained that he
saw nothing- although I designated minutely the course of the creature, as
it made its way down the naked face of the hill.

I was now immeasurably alarmed, for I considered the vision either as an
omen of my death, or, worse, as the fore-runner of an attack of mania. I
threw myself passionately back in my chair, and for some moments buried my
face in my hands. When I uncovered my eyes, the apparition was no longer

My host, however, had in some degree resumed the calmness of his demeanor,
and questioned me very rigorously in respect to the conformation of the
visionary creature. When I had fully satisfied him on this head, he sighed
deeply, as if relieved of some intolerable burden, and went on to talk,
with what I thought a cruel calmness, of various points of speculative
philosophy, which had heretofore formed subject of discussion between us.
I remember his insisting very especially (among other things) upon the
idea that the principle source of error in all human investigations lay in
the liability of the understanding to under-rate or to over-value the
importance of an object, through mere mis-admeasurement of its
propinquity. "To estimate properly, for example," he said, "the influence
to be exercised on mankind at large by the thorough diffusion of
Democracy, the distance of the epoch at which such diffusion may possibly
be accomplished should not fail to form an item in the estimate. Yet can
you tell me one writer on the subject of government who has ever thought
this particular branch of the subject worthy of discussion at all?"

He here paused for a moment, stepped to a book-case, and brought forth one
of the ordinary synopses of Natural History. Requesting me then to
exchange seats with him, that he might the better distinguish the fine
print of the volume, he took my armchair at the window, and, opening the
book, resumed his discourse very much in the same tone as before.

"But for your exceeding minuteness," he said, "in describing the monster,
I might never have had it in my power to demonstrate to you what it was.
In the first place, let me read to you a schoolboy account of the genus
Sphinx, of the family Crepuscularia of the order Lepidoptera, of the class
of Insecta -- or insects. The account runs thus:

"'Four membranous wings covered with little colored scales of metallic
appearance; mouth forming a rolled proboscis, produced by an elongation of
the jaws, upon the sides of which are found the rudiments of mandibles and
downy palpi; the inferior wings retained to the superior by a stiff hair;
antennae in the form of an elongated club, prismatic; abdomen pointed, The
Death's -- headed Sphinx has occasioned much terror among the vulgar, at
times, by the melancholy kind of cry which it utters, and the insignia of
death which it wears upon its corslet.'"

He here closed the book and leaned forward in the chair, placing himself
accurately in the position which I had occupied at the moment of beholding
"the monster."

"Ah, here it is," he presently exclaimed -- "it is reascending the face of
the hill, and a very remarkable looking creature I admit it to be. Still,
it is by no means so large or so distant as you imagined it, -- for the
fact is that, as it wriggles its way up this thread, which some spider has
wrought along the window-sash, I find it to be about the sixteenth of an
inch in its extreme length, and also about the sixteenth of an inch
distant from the pupil of my eye."

~~~ End of Text ~~~



I NEVER knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He
seemed to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and
to tell it well, was the surest road to his favor. Thus it happened that
his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers.
They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men, as
well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether
there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never
been quite able to determine; but certain it is that a lean joker is a
rara avis in terris.

About the refinements, or, as he called them, the 'ghost' of wit, the king
troubled himself very little. He had an especial admiration for breadth in
a jest, and would often put up with length, for the sake of it.
Over-niceties wearied him. He would have preferred Rabelais' 'Gargantua'
to the 'Zadig' of Voltaire: and, upon the whole, practical jokes suited
his taste far better than verbal ones.

At the date of my narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone
out of fashion at court. Several of the great continental 'powers' still
retain their 'fools,' who wore motley, with caps and bells, and who were
expected to be always ready with sharp witticisms, at a moment's notice,
in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table.

Our king, as a matter of course, retained his 'fool.' The fact is, he
required something in the way of folly -- if only to counterbalance the
heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers -- not to
mention himself.

His fool, or professional jester, was not only a fool, however. His value
was trebled in the eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also a dwarf
and a cripple. Dwarfs were as common at court, in those days, as fools;
and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through their days
(days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both a jester to
laugh with, and a dwarf to laugh at. But, as I have already observed, your
jesters, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, are fat, round, and
unwieldy -- so that it was no small source of self-gratulation with our
king that, in Hop-Frog (this was the fool's name), he possessed a
triplicate treasure in one person.

I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the dwarf by his
sponsors at baptism, but it was conferred upon him, by general consent of
the several ministers, on account of his inability to walk as other men
do. In fact, Hop-Frog could only get along by a sort of interjectional
gait -- something between a leap and a wriggle -- a movement that afforded
illimitable amusement, and of course consolation, to the king, for
(notwithstanding the protuberance of his stomach and a constitutional
swelling of the head) the king, by his whole court, was accounted a
capital figure.

But although Hop-Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could move only
with great pain and difficulty along a road or floor, the prodigious
muscular power which nature seemed to have bestowed upon his arms, by way
of compensation for deficiency in the lower limbs, enabled him to perform
many feats of wonderful dexterity, where trees or ropes were in question,
or any thing else to climb. At such exercises he certainly much more
resembled a squirrel, or a small monkey, than a frog.

I am not able to say, with precision, from what country Hop-Frog
originally came. It was from some barbarous region, however, that no
person ever heard of -- a vast distance from the court of our king.
Hop-Frog, and a young girl very little less dwarfish than himself
(although of exquisite proportions, and a marvellous dancer), had been
forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces,
and sent as presents to the king, by one of his ever-victorious generals.

Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close
intimacy arose between the two little captives. Indeed, they soon became
sworn friends. Hop-Frog, who, although he made a great deal of sport, was
by no means popular, had it not in his power to render Trippetta many
services; but she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty (although
a dwarf), was universally admired and petted; so she possessed much
influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the benefit
of Hop-Frog.

On some grand state occasion -- I forgot what -- the king determined to
have a masquerade, and whenever a masquerade or any thing of that kind,
occurred at our court, then the talents, both of Hop-Frog and Trippetta
were sure to be called into play. Hop-Frog, in especial, was so inventive
in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel characters, and
arranging costumes, for masked balls, that nothing could be done, it
seems, without his assistance.

The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been
fitted up, under Trippetta's eye, with every kind of device which could
possibly give eclat to a masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of
expectation. As for costumes and characters, it might well be supposed
that everybody had come to a decision on such points. Many had made up
their minds (as to what roles they should assume) a week, or even a month,
in advance; and, in fact, there was not a particle of indecision anywhere
-- except in the case of the king and his seven minsters. Why they
hesitated I never could tell, unless they did it by way of a joke. More
probably, they found it difficult, on account of being so fat, to make up
their minds. At all events, time flew; and, as a last resort they sent for
Trippetta and Hop-Frog.

When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king they found him
sitting at his wine with the seven members of his cabinet council; but the
monarch appeared to be in a very ill humor. He knew that Hop-Frog was not
fond of wine, for it excited the poor cripple almost to madness; and
madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his practical jokes,
and took pleasure in forcing Hop-Frog to drink and (as the king called it)
'to be merry.'

"Come here, Hop-Frog," said he, as the jester and his friend entered the
room; "swallow this bumper to the health of your absent friends, [here
Hop-Frog sighed,] and then let us have the benefit of your invention. We
want characters -- characters, man -- something novel -- out of the way.
We are wearied with this everlasting sameness. Come, drink! the wine will
brighten your wits."

Hop-Frog endeavored, as usual, to get up a jest in reply to these advances
from the king; but the effort was too much. It happened to be the poor
dwarf's birthday, and the command to drink to his 'absent friends' forced
the tears to his eyes. Many large, bitter drops fell into the goblet as he
took it, humbly, from the hand of the tyrant.

"Ah! ha! ha!" roared the latter, as the dwarf reluctantly drained the
beaker. -- "See what a glass of good wine can do! Why, your eyes are
shining already!"

Poor fellow! his large eyes gleamed, rather than shone; for the effect of
wine on his excitable brain was not more powerful than instantaneous. He
placed the goblet nervously on the table, and looked round upon the
company with a half -- insane stare. They all seemed highly amused at the
success of the king's 'joke.'

"And now to business," said the prime minister, a very fat man.

"Yes," said the King; "Come lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine
fellow; we stand in need of characters -- all of us -- ha! ha! ha!" and as
this was seriously meant for a joke, his laugh was chorused by the seven.

Hop-Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly.

"Come, come," said the king, impatiently, "have you nothing to suggest?"

"I am endeavoring to think of something novel," replied the dwarf,
abstractedly, for he was quite bewildered by the wine.

"Endeavoring!" cried the tyrant, fiercely; "what do you mean by that? Ah,
I perceive. You are Sulky, and want more wine. Here, drink this!" and he
poured out another goblet full and offered it to the cripple, who merely
gazed at it, gasping for breath.

"Drink, I say!" shouted the monster, "or by the fiends-"

The dwarf hesitated. The king grew purple with rage. The courtiers
smirked. Trippetta, pale as a corpse, advanced to the monarch's seat, and,
falling on her knees before him, implored him to spare her friend.

The tyrant regarded her, for some moments, in evident wonder at her
audacity. He seemed quite at a loss what to do or say -- how most
becomingly to express his indignation. At last, without uttering a
syllable, he pushed her violently from him, and threw the contents of the
brimming goblet in her face.

The poor girl got up the best she could, and, not daring even to sigh,
resumed her position at the foot of the table.

There was a dead silence for about half a minute, during which the falling
of a leaf, or of a feather, might have been heard. It was interrupted by a
low, but harsh and protracted grating sound which seemed to come at once
from every corner of the room.

"What -- what -- what are you making that noise for?" demanded the king,
turning furiously to the dwarf.

The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his
intoxication, and looking fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face,
merely ejaculated:

"I -- I? How could it have been me?"

"The sound appeared to come from without," observed one of the courtiers.
"I fancy it was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill upon his

"True," replied the monarch, as if much relieved by the suggestion; "but,
on the honor of a knight, I could have sworn that it was the gritting of
this vagabond's teeth."

Hereupon the dwarf laughed (the king was too confirmed a joker to object
to any one's laughing), and displayed a set of large, powerful, and very
repulsive teeth. Moreover, he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow as
much wine as desired. The monarch was pacified; and having drained another
bumper with no very perceptible ill effect, Hop-Frog entered at once, and
with spirit, into the plans for the masquerade.

"I cannot tell what was the association of idea," observed he, very
tranquilly, and as if he had never tasted wine in his life, "but just
after your majesty, had struck the girl and thrown the wine in her face --
just after your majesty had done this, and while the parrot was making
that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a capital
diversion -- one of my own country frolics -- often enacted among us, at
our masquerades: but here it will be new altogether. Unfortunately,
however, it requires a company of eight persons and-"

"Here we are!" cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the
coincidence; "eight to a fraction -- I and my seven ministers. Come! what
is the diversion?"

"We call it," replied the cripple, "the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs, and
it really is excellent sport if well enacted."

"We will enact it," remarked the king, drawing himself up, and lowering
his eyelids.

"The beauty of the game," continued Hop-Frog, "lies in the fright it
occasions among the women."

"Capital!" roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry.

"I will equip you as ourang-outangs," proceeded the dwarf; "leave all that
to me. The resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of
masqueraders will take you for real beasts -- and of course, they will be
as much terrified as astonished."

"Oh, this is exquisite!" exclaimed the king. "Hop-Frog! I will make a man
of you."

"The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their
jangling. You are supposed to have escaped, en masse, from your keepers.
Your majesty cannot conceive the effect produced, at a masquerade, by
eight chained ourang-outangs, imagined to be real ones by most of the
company; and rushing in with savage cries, among the crowd of delicately
and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable!"

"It must be," said the king: and the council arose hurriedly (as it was
growing late), to put in execution the scheme of Hop-Frog.

His mode of equipping the party as ourang-outangs was very simple, but
effective enough for his purposes. The animals in question had, at the
epoch of my story, very rarely been seen in any part of the civilized
world; and as the imitations made by the dwarf were sufficiently
beast-like and more than sufficiently hideous, their truthfulness to
nature was thus thought to be secured.

The king and his ministers were first encased in tight-fitting stockinet
shirts and drawers. They were then saturated with tar. At this stage of
the process, some one of the party suggested feathers; but the suggestion
was at once overruled by the dwarf, who soon convinced the eight, by
ocular demonstration, that the hair of such a brute as the ourang-outang
was much more efficiently represented by flu. A thick coating of the
latter was accordingly plastered upon the coating of tar. A long chain was
now procured. First, it was passed about the waist of the king, and tied,
then about another of the party, and also tied; then about all
successively, in the same manner. When this chaining arrangement was
complete, and the party stood as far apart from each other as possible,
they formed a circle; and to make all things appear natural, Hop-Frog
passed the residue of the chain in two diameters, at right angles, across
the circle, after the fashion adopted, at the present day, by those who
capture Chimpanzees, or other large apes, in Borneo.

The grand saloon in which the masquerade was to take place, was a circular
room, very lofty, and receiving the light of the sun only through a single
window at top. At night (the season for which the apartment was especially
designed) it was illuminated principally by a large chandelier, depending
by a chain from the centre of the sky-light, and lowered, or elevated, by
means of a counter-balance as usual; but (in order not to look unsightly)
this latter passed outside the cupola and over the roof.

The arrangements of the room had been left to Trippetta's superintendence;
but, in some particulars, it seems, she had been guided by the calmer
judgment of her friend the dwarf. At his suggestion it was that, on this
occasion, the chandelier was removed. Its waxen drippings (which, in
weather so warm, it was quite impossible to prevent) would have been
seriously detrimental to the rich dresses of the guests, who, on account
of the crowded state of the saloon, could not all be expected to keep from
out its centre; that is to say, from under the chandelier. Additional
sconces were set in various parts of the hall, out of the war, and a
flambeau, emitting sweet odor, was placed in the right hand of each of the
Caryaides [Caryatides] that stood against the wall -- some fifty or sixty

The eight ourang-outangs, taking Hop-Frog's advice, waited patiently until
midnight (when the room was thoroughly filled with masqueraders) before
making their appearance. No sooner had the clock ceased striking, however,
than they rushed, or rather rolled in, all together -- for the impediments
of their chains caused most of the party to fall, and all to stumble as
they entered.

The excitement among the masqueraders was prodigious, and filled the heart
of the king with glee. As had been anticipated, there were not a few of
the guests who supposed the ferocious-looking creatures to be beasts of
some kind in reality, if not precisely ourang-outangs. Many of the women
swooned with affright; and had not the king taken the precaution to
exclude all weapons from the saloon, his party might soon have expiated
their frolic in their blood. As it was, a general rush was made for the
doors; but the king had ordered them to be locked immediately upon his
entrance; and, at the dwarf's suggestion, the keys had been deposited with

While the tumult was at its height, and each masquerader attentive only to
his own safety (for, in fact, there was much real danger from the pressure
of the excited crowd), the chain by which the chandelier ordinarily hung,
and which had been drawn up on its removal, might have been seen very
gradually to descend, until its hooked extremity came within three feet of
the floor.

Soon after this, the king and his seven friends having reeled about the
hall in all directions, found themselves, at length, in its centre, and,
of course, in immediate contact with the chain. While they were thus
situated, the dwarf, who had followed noiselessly at their heels, inciting
them to keep up the commotion, took hold of their own chain at the
intersection of the two portions which crossed the circle diametrically
and at right angles. Here, with the rapidity of thought, he inserted the
hook from which the chandelier had been wont to depend; and, in an
instant, by some unseen agency, the chandelier-chain was drawn so far
upward as to take the hook out of reach, and, as an inevitable
consequence, to drag the ourang-outangs together in close connection, and
face to face.

The masqueraders, by this time, had recovered, in some measure, from their
alarm; and, beginning to regard the whole matter as a well-contrived
pleasantry, set up a loud shout of laughter at the predicament of the

"Leave them to me!" now screamed Hop-Frog, his shrill voice making itself
easily heard through all the din. "Leave them to me. I fancy I know them.
If I can only get a good look at them, I can soon tell who they are."

Here, scrambling over the heads of the crowd, he managed to get to the
wall; when, seizing a flambeau from one of the Caryatides, he returned, as
he went, to the centre of the room-leaping, with the agility of a monkey,
upon the kings head, and thence clambered a few feet up the chain; holding
down the torch to examine the group of ourang-outangs, and still
screaming: "I shall soon find out who they are!"

And now, while the whole assembly (the apes included) were convulsed with
laughter, the jester suddenly uttered a shrill whistle; when the chain
flew violently up for about thirty feet -- dragging with it the dismayed
and struggling ourang-outangs, and leaving them suspended in mid-air
between the sky-light and the floor. Hop-Frog, clinging to the chain as it
rose, still maintained his relative position in respect to the eight
maskers, and still (as if nothing were the matter) continued to thrust his
torch down toward them, as though endeavoring to discover who they were.

So thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this ascent, that a dead
silence, of about a minute's duration, ensued. It was broken by just such
a low, harsh, grating sound, as had before attracted the attention of the
king and his councillors when the former threw the wine in the face of
Trippetta. But, on the present occasion, there could be no question as to
whence the sound issued. It came from the fang -- like teeth of the dwarf,
who ground them and gnashed them as he foamed at the mouth, and glared,
with an expression of maniacal rage, into the upturned countenances of the
king and his seven companions.

"Ah, ha!" said at length the infuriated jester. "Ah, ha! I begin to see
who these people are now!" Here, pretending to scrutinize the king more
closely, he held the flambeau to the flaxen coat which enveloped him, and
which instantly burst into a sheet of vivid flame. In less than half a
minute the whole eight ourang-outangs were blazing fiercely, amid the
shrieks of the multitude who gazed at them from below, horror-stricken,
and without the power to render them the slightest assistance.

At length the flames, suddenly increasing in virulence, forced the jester
to climb higher up the chain, to be out of their reach; and, as he made
this movement, the crowd again sank, for a brief instant, into silence.
The dwarf seized his opportunity, and once more spoke:

"I now see distinctly." he said, "what manner of people these maskers are.
They are a great king and his seven privy-councillors, -- a king who does
not scruple to strike a defenceless girl and his seven councillors who
abet him in the outrage. As for myself, I am simply Hop-Frog, the jester
-- and this is my last jest."

Owing to the high combustibility of both the flax and the tar to which it
adhered, the dwarf had scarcely made an end of his brief speech before the
work of vengeance was complete. The eight corpses swung in their chains, a
fetid, blackened, hideous, and indistinguishable mass. The cripple hurled
his torch at them, clambered leisurely to the ceiling, and disappeared
through the sky-light.

It is supposed that Trippetta, stationed on the roof of the saloon, had
been the accomplice of her friend in his fiery revenge, and that,
together, they effected their escape to their own country: for neither was
seen again.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul.

_La Bruyère_.

IT was well said of a certain German book that "_er lasst sich nicht
lesen_" - it does not permit itself to be read. There are some secrets
which do not permit themselves to be told. Men die nightly in their beds,
wringing the hands of ghostly confessors and looking them piteously in the
eyes -- die with despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of
the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be
revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man takes up a burthen so
heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only into the grave. And thus
the essence of all crime is undivulged.

Not long ago, about the closing in of an evening in autumn, I sat at
the large bow window of the D---- Coffee-House in London. For some months
I had been ill in health, but was now convalescent, and, with returning
strength, found myself in one of those happy moods which are so precisely
the converse of ennui - moods of the keenest appetency, when the film from
the mental vision departs - the "PL> 0 BDT ,B­,L - and the intellect,
electrified, surpasses as greatly its every-day condition, as does the
vivid yet candid reason of Leibnitz, the mad and flimsy rhetoric of
Gorgias. Merely to breathe was enjoyment; and I derived positive pleasure
even from many of the legitimate sources of pain. I felt a calm but
inquisitive interest in every thing. With a cigar in my mouth and a
newspaper in my lap, I had been amusing myself for the greater part of the
afternoon, now in poring over advertisements, now in observing the
promiscuous company in the room, and now in peering through the smoky
panes into the street.

This latter is one of the principal thoroughfares of the city, and had
been very much crowded during the whole day. But, as the darkness came on,
the throng momently increased; and, by the time the lamps were well
lighted, two dense and continuous tides of population were rushing past
the door. At this particular period of the evening I had never before been
in a similar situation, and the tumultuous sea of human heads filled me,
therefore, with a delicious novelty of emotion. I gave up, at length, all
care of things within the hotel, and became absorbed in contemplation of
the scene without.

At first my observations took an abstract and generalizing turn. I looked
at the passengers in masses, and thought of them in their aggregate
relations. Soon, however, I descended to details, and regarded with minute
interest the innumerable varieties of figure, dress, air, gait, visage,
and expression of countenance.

By far the greater number of those who went by had a satisfied
business-like demeanor, and seemed to be thinking only of making their way
through the press. Their brows were knit, and their eyes rolled quickly;
when pushed against by fellow-wayfarers they evinced no symptom of
impatience, but adjusted their clothes and hurried on. Others, still a
numerous class, were restless in their movements, had flushed faces, and
talked and gesticulated to themselves, as if feeling in solitude on
account of the very denseness of the company around. When impeded in their
progress, these people suddenly ceased muttering, but re-doubled their
gesticulations, and awaited, with an absent and overdone smile upon the
lips, the course of the persons impeding them. If jostled, they bowed
profusely to the jostlers, and appeared overwhelmed with confusion. -
There was nothing very distinctive about these two large classes beyond
what I have noted. Their habiliments belonged to that order which is
pointedly termed the decent. They were undoubtedly noblemen, merchants,
attorneys, tradesmen, stock-jobbers - the Eupatrids and the common-places
of society - men of leisure and men actively engaged in affairs of their
own - conducting business upon their own responsibility. They did not
greatly excite my attention.

The tribe of clerks was an obvious one and here I discerned two remarkable
divisions. There were the junior clerks of flash houses - young gentlemen
with tight coats, bright boots, well-oiled hair, and supercilious lips.
Setting aside a certain dapperness of carriage, which may be termed
deskism for want of a better word, the manner of these persons seemed to
me an exact fac-simile of what had been the perfection of bon ton about
twelve or eighteen months before. They wore the cast-off graces of the
gentry; - and this, I believe, involves the best definition of the class.

The division of the upper clerks of staunch firms, or of the "steady old
fellows," it was not possible to mistake. These were known by their coats
and pantaloons of black or brown, made to sit comfortably, with white
cravats and waistcoats, broad solid-looking shoes, and thick hose or
gaiters. - They had all slightly bald heads, from which the right ears,
long used to pen-holding, had an odd habit of standing off on end. I
observed that they always removed or settled their hats with both hands,
and wore watches, with short gold chains of a substantial and ancient
pattern. Theirs was the affectation of respectability; - if indeed there
be an affectation so honorable.

There were many individuals of dashing appearance, whom I easily
understood as belonging to the race of swell pick-pockets with which all
great cities are infested. I watched these gentry with much
inquisitiveness, and found it difficult to imagine how they should ever be
mistaken for gentlemen by gentlemen themselves. Their voluminousness of
wristband, with an air of excessive frankness, should betray them at once.

The gamblers, of whom I descried not a few, were still more easily
recognisable. They wore every variety of dress, from that of the desperate
thimble-rig bully, with velvet waistcoat, fancy neckerchief, gilt chains,
and filagreed buttons, to that of the scrupulously inornate clergyman,
than which nothing could be less liable to suspicion. Still all were
distinguished by a certain sodden swarthiness of complexion, a filmy
dimness of eye, and pallor and compression of lip. There were two other
traits, moreover, by which I could always detect them; - a guarded lowness
of tone in conversation, and a more than ordinary extension of the thumb
in a direction at right angles with the fingers. - Very often, in company
with these sharpers, I observed an order of men somewhat different in
habits, but still birds of a kindred feather. They may be defined as the
gentlemen who live by their wits. They seem to prey upon the public in two
battalions - that of the dandies and that of the military men. Of the
first grade the leading features are long locks and smiles; of the second
frogged coats and frowns.

Descending in the scale of what is termed gentility, I found darker and
deeper themes for speculation. I saw Jew pedlars, with hawk eyes flashing
from countenances whose every other feature wore only an expression of
abject humility; sturdy professional street beggars scowling upon
mendicants of a better stamp, whom despair alone had driven forth into the
night for charity; feeble and ghastly invalids, upon whom death had placed
a sure hand, and who sidled and tottered through the mob, looking every
one beseechingly in the face, as if in search of some chance consolation,
some lost hope; modest young girls returning from long and late labor to a
cheerless home, and shrinking more tearfully than indignantly from the
glances of ruffians, whose direct contact, even, could not be avoided;
women of the town of all kinds and of all ages - the unequivocal beauty in
the prime of her womanhood, putting one in mind of the statue in Lucian,
with the surface of Parian marble, and the interior filled with filth -
the loathsome and utterly lost leper in rags - the wrinkled, bejewelled
and paint-begrimed beldame, making a last effort at youth - the mere child
of immature form, yet, from long association, an adept in the dreadful
coquetries of her trade, and burning with a rabid ambition to be ranked
the equal of her elders in vice; drunkards innumerable and indescribable -
some in shreds and patches, reeling, inarticulate, with bruised visage and
lack-lustre eyes - some in whole although filthy garments, with a slightly
unsteady swagger, thick sensual lips, and hearty-looking rubicund faces -
others clothed in materials which had once been good, and which even now
were scrupulously well brushed - men who walked with a more than naturally
firm and springy step, but whose countenances were fearfully pale, whose
eyes hideously wild and red, and who clutched with quivering fingers, as
they strode through the crowd, at every object which came within their
reach; beside these, pie-men, porters, coal- heavers, sweeps;
organ-grinders, monkey-exhibiters and ballad mongers, those who vended
with those who sang; ragged artizans and exhausted laborers of every
description, and all full of a noisy and inordinate vivacity which jarred
discordantly upon the ear, and gave an aching sensation to the eye.

As the night deepened, so deepened to me the interest of the scene; for
not only did the general character of the crowd materially alter (its
gentler features retiring in the gradual withdrawal of the more orderly
portion of the people, and its harsher ones coming out into bolder relief,
as the late hour brought forth every species of infamy from its den,) but
the rays of the gas-lamps, feeble at first in their struggle with the
dying day, had now at length gained ascendancy, and threw over every thing
a fitful and garish lustre. All was dark yet splendid - as that ebony to
which has been likened the style of Tertullian.

The wild effects of the light enchained me to an examination of individual
faces; and although the rapidity with which the world of light flitted
before the window, prevented me from casting more than a glance upon each
visage, still it seemed that, in my then peculiar mental state, I could
frequently read, even in that brief interval of a glance, the history of
long years.

With my brow to the glass, I was thus occupied in scrutinizing the mob,
when suddenly there came into view a countenance (that of a decrepid old
man, some sixty-five or seventy years of age,) - a countenance which at
once arrested and absorbed my whole attention, on account of the absolute
idiosyncrasy of its expression. Any thing even remotely resembling that
expression I had never seen before. I well remember that my first thought,
upon beholding it, was that Retzch, had he viewed it, would have greatly
preferred it to his own pictural incarnations of the fiend. As I
endeavored, during the brief minute of my original survey, to form some
analysis of the meaning conveyed, there arose confusedly and paradoxically
within my mind, the ideas of vast mental power, of caution, of
penuriousness, of avarice, of coolness, of malice, of blood thirstiness,
of triumph, of merriment, of excessive terror, of intense - of supreme
despair. I felt singularly aroused, startled, fascinated. "How wild a
history," I said to myself, "is written within that bosom!" Then came a
craving desire to keep the man in view - to know more of him. Hurriedly
putting on an overcoat, and seizing my hat and cane, I made my way into
the street, and pushed through the crowd in the direction which I had seen
him take; for he had already disappeared. With some little difficulty I at
length came within sight of him, approached, and followed him closely, yet
cautiously, so as not to attract his attention.

I had now a good opportunity of examining his person. He was short in
stature, very thin, and apparently very feeble. His clothes, generally,
were filthy and ragged; but as he came, now and then, within the strong
glare of a lamp, I perceived that his linen, although dirty, was of
beautiful texture; and my vision deceived me, or, through a rent in a
closely-buttoned and evidently second-handed roquelaire which enveloped
him, I caught a glimpse both of a diamond and of a dagger. These
observations heightened my curiosity, and I resolved to follow the
stranger whithersoever he should go.

It was now fully night-fall, and a thick humid fog hung over the city,
soon ending in a settled and heavy rain. This change of weather had an odd
effect upon the crowd, the whole of which was at once put into new
commotion, and overshadowed by a world of umbrellas. The waver, the
jostle, and the hum increased in a tenfold degree. For my own part I did
not much regard the rain - the lurking of an old fever in my system
rendering the moisture somewhat too dangerously pleasant. Tying a
handkerchief about my mouth, I kept on. For half an hour the old man held
his way with difficulty along the great thoroughfare; and I here walked
close at his elbow through fear of losing sight of him. Never once turning
his head to look back, he did not observe me. By and bye he passed into a
cross street, which, although densely filled with people, was not quite so
much thronged as the main one he had quitted. Here a change in his
demeanor became evident. He walked more slowly and with less object than
before - more hesitatingly. He crossed and re-crossed the way repeatedly
without apparent aim; and the press was still so thick that, at every such
movement, I was obliged to follow him closely. The street was a narrow and
long one, and his course lay within it for nearly an hour, during which
the passengers had gradually diminished to about that number which is
ordinarily seen at noon in Broadway near the Park - so vast a difference
is there between a London populace and that of the most frequented
American city. A second turn brought us into a square, brilliantly
lighted, and overflowing with life. The old manner of the stranger
re-appeared. His chin fell upon his breast, while his eyes rolled wildly
from under his knit brows, in every direction, upon those who hemmed him
in. He urged his way steadily and perseveringly. I was surprised, however,
to find, upon his having made the circuit of the square, that he turned
and retraced his steps. Still more was I astonished to see him repeat the
same walk several times -- once nearly detecting me as he came round with
a sudden movement.

In this exercise he spent another hour, at the end of which we met with
far less interruption from passengers than at first. The rain fell fast;
the air grew cool; and the people were retiring to their homes. With a
gesture of impatience, the wanderer passed into a bye-street comparatively
deserted. Down this, some quarter of a mile long, he rushed with an
activity I could not have dreamed of seeing in one so aged, and which put
me to much trouble in pursuit. A few minutes brought us to a large and
busy bazaar, with the localities of which the stranger appeared well
acquainted, and where his original demeanor again became apparent, as he
forced his way to and fro, without aim, among the host of buyers and

During the hour and a half, or thereabouts, which we passed in this place,
it required much caution on my part to keep him within reach without
attracting his observation. Luckily I wore a pair of caoutchouc
over-shoes, and could move about in perfect silence. At no moment did he
see that I watched him. He entered shop after shop, priced nothing, spoke
no word, and looked at all objects with a wild and vacant stare. I was now
utterly amazed at his behavior, and firmly resolved that we should not
part until I had satisfied myself in some measure respecting him.

A loud-toned clock struck eleven, and the company were fast deserting the
bazaar. A shop-keeper, in putting up a shutter, jostled the old man, and
at the instant I saw a strong shudder come over his frame. He hurried into
the street, looked anxiously around him for an instant, and then ran with
incredible swiftness through many crooked and people-less lanes, until we
emerged once more upon the great thoroughfare whence we had started -- the
street of the D---- Hotel. It no longer wore, however, the same aspect. It
was still brilliant with gas; but the rain fell fiercely, and there were
few persons to be seen. The stranger grew pale. He walked moodily some
paces up the once populous avenue, then, with a heavy sigh, turned in the
direction of the river, and, plunging through a great variety of devious
ways, came out, at length, in view of one of the principal theatres. It
was about being closed, and the audience were thronging from the doors. I
saw the old man gasp as if for breath while he threw himself amid the
crowd; but I thought that the intense agony of his countenance had, in
some measure, abated. His head again fell upon his breast; he appeared as
I had seen him at first. I observed that he now took the course in which
had gone the greater number of the audience - but, upon the whole, I was
at a loss to comprehend the waywardness of his actions.

As he proceeded, the company grew more scattered, and his old uneasiness
and vacillation were resumed. For some time he followed closely a party of
some ten or twelve roisterers; but from this number one by one dropped
off, until three only remained together, in a narrow and gloomy lane
little frequented. The stranger paused, and, for a moment, seemed lost in
thought; then, with every mark of agitation, pursued rapidly a route which
brought us to the verge of the city, amid regions very different from
those we had hitherto traversed. It was the most noisome quarter of
London, where every thing wore the worst impress of the most deplorable
poverty, and of the most desperate crime. By the dim light of an
accidental lamp, tall, antique, worm-eaten, wooden tenements were seen
tottering to their fall, in directions so many and capricious that scarce
the semblance of a passage was discernible between them. The paving-stones
lay at random, displaced from their beds by the rankly-growing grass.
Horrible filth festered in the dammed-up gutters. The whole atmosphere
teemed with desolation. Yet, as we proceeded, the sounds of human life
revived by sure degrees, and at length large bands of the most abandoned
of a London populace were seen reeling to and fro. The spirits of the old
man again flickered up, as a lamp which is near its death hour. Once more
he strode onward with elastic tread. Suddenly a corner was turned, a blaze
of light burst upon our sight, and we stood before one of the huge
suburban temples of Intemperance - one of the palaces of the fiend, Gin.

It was now nearly day-break; but a number of wretched inebriates still
pressed in and out of the flaunting entrance. With a half shriek of joy
the old man forced a passage within, resumed at once his original bearing,
and stalked backward and forward, without apparent object, among the
throng. He had not been thus long occupied, however, before a rush to the
doors gave token that the host was closing them for the night. It was
something even more intense than despair that I then observed upon the
countenance of the singular being whom I had watched so pertinaciously.
Yet he did not hesitate in his career, but, with a mad energy, retraced
his steps at once, to the heart of the mighty London. Long and swiftly he
fled, while I followed him in the wildest amazement, resolute not to
abandon a scrutiny in which I now felt an interest all-absorbing. The sun
arose while we proceeded, and, when we had once again reached that most
thronged mart of the populous town, the street of the D---- Hotel, it
presented an appearance of human bustle and activity scarcely inferior to
what I had seen on the evening before. And here, long, amid the momently
increasing confusion, did I persist in my pursuit of the stranger. But, as
usual, he walked to and fro, and during the day did not pass from out the
turmoil of that street. And, as the shades of the second evening came on,
I grew wearied unto death, and, stopping fully in front of the wanderer,
gazed at him steadfastly in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his
solemn walk, while I, ceasing to follow, remained absorbed in
contemplation. "This old man," I said at length, "is the type and the
genius of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. [page 228:] He is the man of
the crowd. It will be in vain to follow; for I shall learn no more of him,
nor of his deeds. The worst heart of the world is a grosser book than the
'Hortulus Animæ,' {*1} and perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of
God that 'er lasst sich nicht lesen.' "

{*1} The "_Hortulus Animæ cum Oratiunculis Aliquibus Superadditis_" of

~~~ End of Text ~~~


Never Bet the Devil Your Head

A Tale With a Moral.

"_CON tal que las costumbres de un autor_," says Don Thomas de las Torres,
in the preface to his "Amatory Poems" _"sean puras y castas, importo muy
poco que no sean igualmente severas sus obras"_ -- meaning, in plain
English, that, provided the morals of an author are pure personally, it
signifies nothing what are the morals of his books. We presume that Don
Thomas is now in Purgatory for the assertion. It would be a clever thing,
too, in the way of poetical justice, to keep him there until his "Amatory
Poems" get out of print, or are laid definitely upon the shelf through
lack of readers. Every fiction should have a moral; and, what is more to
the purpose, the critics have discovered that every fiction has. Philip
Melanchthon, some time ago, wrote a commentary upon the
"Batrachomyomachia," and proved that the poet's object was to excite a
distaste for sedition. Pierre la Seine, going a step farther, shows that
the intention was to recommend to young men temperance in eating and
drinking. Just so, too, Jacobus Hugo has satisfied himself that, by
Euenis, Homer meant to insinuate John Calvin; by Antinous, Martin Luther;
by the Lotophagi, Protestants in general; and, by the Harpies, the Dutch.
Our more modern Scholiasts are equally acute. These fellows demonstrate a
hidden meaning in "The Antediluvians," a parable in Powhatan," new views
in "Cock Robin," and transcendentalism in "Hop O' My Thumb." In short, it
has been shown that no man can sit down to write without a very profound
design. Thus to authors in general much trouble is spared. A novelist, for
example, need have no care of his moral. It is there -- that is to say, it
is somewhere -- and the moral and the critics can take care of themselves.
When the proper time arrives, all that the gentleman intended, and all
that he did not intend, will be brought to light, in the "Dial," or the
"Down-Easter," together with all that he ought to have intended, and the
rest that he clearly meant to intend: -- so that it will all come very
straight in the end.

There is no just ground, therefore, for the charge brought against me by
certain ignoramuses -- that I have never written a moral tale, or, in more
precise words, a tale with a moral. They are not the critics predestined
to bring me out, and develop my morals: -- that is the secret. By and by
the "North American Quarterly Humdrum" will make them ashamed of their
stupidity. In the meantime, by way of staying execution -- by way of
mitigating the accusations against me -- I offer the sad history appended,
-- a history about whose obvious moral there can be no question whatever,
since he who runs may read it in the large capitals which form the title
of the tale. I should have credit for this arrangement -- a far wiser one
than that of La Fontaine and others, who reserve the impression to be
conveyed until the last moment, and thus sneak it in at the fag end of
their fables.

Defuncti injuria ne afficiantur was a law of the twelve tables, and De
mortuis nil nisi bonum is an excellent injunction -- even if the dead in
question be nothing but dead small beer. It is not my design, therefore,
to vituperate my deceased friend, Toby Dammit. He was a sad dog, it is
true, and a dog's death it was that he died; but he himself was not to
blame for his vices. They grew out of a personal defect in his mother. She
did her best in the way of flogging him while an infant -- for duties to
her well -- regulated mind were always pleasures, and babies, like tough
steaks, or the modern Greek olive trees, are invariably the better for
beating -- but, poor woman! she had the misfortune to be left-handed, and
a child flogged left-handedly had better be left unflogged. The world
revolves from right to left. It will not do to whip a baby from left to
right. If each blow in the proper direction drives an evil propensity out,
it follows that every thump in an opposite one knocks its quota of
wickedness in. I was often present at Toby's chastisements, and, even by
the way in which he kicked, I could perceive that he was getting worse and
worse every day. At last I saw, through the tears in my eyes, that there
was no hope of the villain at all, and one day when he had been cuffed
until he grew so black in the face that one might have mistaken him for a
little African, and no effect had been produced beyond that of making him
wriggle himself into a fit, I could stand it no longer, but went down upon
my knees forthwith, and, uplifting my voice, made prophecy of his ruin.

The fact is that his precocity in vice was awful. At five months of age he
used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At six
months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he was in
the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies. At eight
months he peremptorily refused to put his signature to the Temperance
pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after month, until,
at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon wearing
moustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and
for backing his assertions by bets.

Through this latter most ungentlemanly practice, the ruin which I had
predicted to Toby Dammit overtook him at last. The fashion had "grown with
his growth and strengthened with his strength," so that, when he came to
be a man, he could scarcely utter a sentence without interlarding it with
a proposition to gamble. Not that he actually laid wagers -- no. I will do
my friend the justice to say that he would as soon have laid eggs. With
him the thing was a mere formula -- nothing more. His expressions on this
head had no meaning attached to them whatever. They were simple if not
altogether innocent expletives -- imaginative phrases wherewith to round
off a sentence. When he said "I'll bet you so and so," nobody ever thought
of taking him up; but still I could not help thinking it my duty to put
him down. The habit was an immoral one, and so I told him. It was a vulgar
one- this I begged him to believe. It was discountenanced by society --
here I said nothing but the truth. It was forbidden by act of Congress --
here I had not the slightest intention of telling a lie. I remonstrated --
but to no purpose. I demonstrated -- in vain. I entreated -- he smiled. I
implored -- he laughed. I preached- he sneered. I threatened -- he swore.
I kicked him -- he called for the police. I pulled his nose -- he blew it,
and offered to bet the Devil his head that I would not venture to try that
experiment again.

Poverty was another vice which the peculiar physical deficiency of
Dammit's mother had entailed upon her son. He was detestably poor, and
this was the reason, no doubt, that his expletive expressions about
betting, seldom took a pecuniary turn. I will not be bound to say that I
ever heard him make use of such a figure of speech as "I'll bet you a
dollar." It was usually "I'll bet you what you please," or "I'll bet you
what you dare," or "I'll bet you a trifle," or else, more significantly
still, "I'll bet the Devil my head."

This latter form seemed to please him best; -- perhaps because it involved
the least risk; for Dammit had become excessively parsimonious. Had any
one taken him up, his head was small, and thus his loss would have been
small too. But these are my own reflections and I am by no means sure that
I am right in attributing them to him. At all events the phrase in
question grew daily in favor, notwithstanding the gross impropriety of a
man betting his brains like bank-notes: -- but this was a point which my
friend's perversity of disposition would not permit him to comprehend. In
the end, he abandoned all other forms of wager, and gave himself up to
"I'll bet the Devil my head," with a pertinacity and exclusiveness of
devotion that displeased not less than it surprised me. I am always
displeased by circumstances for which I cannot account. Mysteries force a
man to think, and so injure his health. The truth is, there was something
in the air with which Mr. Dammit was wont to give utterance to his
offensive expression -- something in his manner of enunciation -- which at
first interested, and afterwards made me very uneasy -- something which,
for want of a more definite term at present, I must be permitted to call
queer; but which Mr. Coleridge would have called mystical, Mr. Kant
pantheistical, Mr. Carlyle twistical, and Mr. Emerson hyperquizzitistical.
I began not to like it at all. Mr. Dammits soul was in a perilous state. I
resolved to bring all my eloquence into play to save it. I vowed to serve
him as St. Patrick, in the Irish chronicle, is said to have served the
toad, -- that is to say, "awaken him to a sense of his situation." I
addressed myself to the task forthwith. Once more I betook myself to
remonstrance. Again I collected my energies for a final attempt at

When I had made an end of my lecture, Mr. Dammit indulged himself in some
very equivocal behavior. For some moments he remained silent, merely
looking me inquisitively in the face. But presently he threw his head to
one side, and elevated his eyebrows to a great extent. Then he spread out
the palms of his hands and shrugged up his shoulders. Then he winked with
the right eye. Then he repeated the operation with the left. Then he shut
them both up very tight. Then he opened them both so very wide that I
became seriously alarmed for the consequences. Then, applying his thumb to
his nose, he thought proper to make an indescribable movement with the
rest of his fingers. Finally, setting his arms a-kimbo, he condescended to

I can call to mind only the beads of his discourse. He would be obliged to
me if I would hold my tongue. He wished none of my advice. He despised all
my insinuations. He was old enough to take care of himself. Did I still
think him baby Dammit? Did I mean to say any thing against his character?
Did I intend to insult him? Was I a fool? Was my maternal parent aware, in
a word, of my absence from the domiciliary residence? He would put this
latter question to me as to a man of veracity, and he would bind himself
to abide by my reply. Once more he would demand explicitly if my mother
knew that I was out. My confusion, he said, betrayed me, and he would be
willing to bet the Devil his head that she did not.

Mr. Dammit did not pause for my rejoinder. Turning upon his heel, he left
my presence with undignified precipitation. It was well for him that he
did so. My feelings had been wounded. Even my anger had been aroused. For
once I would have taken him up upon his insulting wager. I would have won
for the Arch-Enemy Mr. Dammit's little head -- for the fact is, my mamma
was very well aware of my merely temporary absence from home.

But Khoda shefa midêhed -- Heaven gives relief -- as the Mussulmans say
when you tread upon their toes. It was in pursuance of my duty that I had
been insulted, and I bore the insult like a man. It now seemed to me,
however, that I had done all that could be required of me, in the case of
this miserable individual, and I resolved to trouble him no longer with my
counsel, but to leave him to his conscience and himself. But although I
forebore to intrude with my advice, I could not bring myself to give up
his society altogether. I even went so far as to humor some of his less
reprehensible propensities; and there were times when I found myself
lauding his wicked jokes, as epicures do mustard, with tears in my eyes:
-- so profoundly did it grieve me to hear his evil talk.

One fine day, having strolled out together, arm in arm, our route led us
in the direction of a river. There was a bridge, and we resolved to cross
it. It was roofed over, by way of protection from the weather, and the
archway, having but few windows, was thus very uncomfortably dark. As we
entered the passage, the contrast between the external glare and the
interior gloom struck heavily upon my spirits. Not so upon those of the
unhappy Dammit, who offered to bet the Devil his head that I was hipped.
He seemed to be in an unusual good humor. He was excessively lively -- so
much so that I entertained I know not what of uneasy suspicion. It is not
impossible that he was affected with the transcendentals. I am not well
enough versed, however, in the diagnosis of this disease to speak with
decision upon the point; and unhappily there were none of my friends of
the "Dial" present. I suggest the idea, nevertheless, because of a certain
species of austere Merry-Andrewism which seemed to beset my poor friend,
and caused him to make quite a Tom-Fool of himself. Nothing would serve
him but wriggling and skipping about under and over every thing that came
in his way; now shouting out, and now lisping out, all manner of odd
little and big words, yet preserving the gravest face in the world all the
time. I really could not make up my mind whether to kick or to pity him.
At length, having passed nearly across the bridge, we approached the
termination of the footway, when our progress was impeded by a turnstile
of some height. Through this I made my way quietly, pushing it around as
usual. But this turn would not serve the turn of Mr. Dammit. He insisted
upon leaping the stile, and said he could cut a pigeon-wing over it in the
air. Now this, conscientiously speaking, I did not think he could do. The
best pigeon-winger over all kinds of style was my friend Mr. Carlyle, and
as I knew he could not do it, I would not believe that it could be done by
Toby Dammit. I therefore told him, in so many words, that he was a
braggadocio, and could not do what he said. For this I had reason to be
sorry afterward; -- for he straightway offered to bet the Devil his head
that he could.

I was about to reply, notwithstanding my previous resolutions, with some
remonstrance against his impiety, when I heard, close at my elbow, a
slight cough, which sounded very much like the ejaculation "ahem!" I
started, and looked about me in surprise. My glance at length fell into a
nook of the frame -- work of the bridge, and upon the figure of a little
lame old gentleman of venerable aspect. Nothing could be more reverend
than his whole appearance; for he not only had on a full suit of black,
but his shirt was perfectly clean and the collar turned very neatly down
over a white cravat, while his hair was parted in front like a girl's. His
hands were clasped pensively together over his stomach, and his two eyes
were carefully rolled up into the top of his head.

Upon observing him more closely, I perceived that he wore a black silk
apron over his small-clothes; and this was a thing which I thought very
odd. Before I had time to make any remark, however, upon so singular a
circumstance, he interrupted me with a second "ahem!"

To this observation I was not immediately prepared to reply. The fact is,
remarks of this laconic nature are nearly unanswerable. I have known a
Quarterly Review non-plussed by the word "Fudge!" I am not ashamed to say,
therefore, that I turned to Mr. Dammit for assistance.

"Dammit," said I, "what are you about? don't you hear? -- the gentleman
says 'ahem!'" I looked sternly at my friend while I thus addressed him;
for, to say the truth, I felt particularly puzzled, and when a man is
particularly puzzled he must knit his brows and look savage, or else he is
pretty sure to look like a fool.

"Dammit," observed I -- although this sounded very much like an oath, than
which nothing was further from my thoughts -- "Dammit," I suggested --
"the gentleman says 'ahem!'"

I do not attempt to defend my remark on the score of profundity; I did not
think it profound myself; but I have noticed that the effect of our
speeches is not always proportionate with their importance in our own
eyes; and if I had shot Mr. D. through and through with a Paixhan bomb, or
knocked him in the head with the "Poets and Poetry of America," he could
hardly have been more discomfited than when I addressed him with those
simple words: "Dammit, what are you about?- don't you hear? -- the
gentleman says 'ahem!'"

"You don't say so?" gasped he at length, after turning more colors than a
pirate runs up, one after the other, when chased by a man-of-war. "Are you
quite sure he said that? Well, at all events I am in for it now, and may
as well put a bold face upon the matter. Here goes, then -- ahem!"

At this the little old gentleman seemed pleased -- God only knows why. He
left his station at the nook of the bridge, limped forward with a gracious
air, took Dammit by the hand and shook it cordially, looking all the while
straight up in his face with an air of the most unadulterated benignity
which it is possible for the mind of man to imagine.

"I am quite sure you will win it, Dammit," said he, with the frankest of
all smiles, "but we are obliged to have a trial, you know, for the sake of
mere form."

"Ahem!" replied my friend, taking off his coat, with a deep sigh, tying a
pocket-handkerchief around his waist, and producing an unaccountable
alteration in his countenance by twisting up his eyes and bringing down
the corners of his mouth -- "ahem!" And "ahem!" said he again, after a
pause; and not another word more than "ahem!" did I ever know him to say
after that. "Aha!" thought I, without expressing myself aloud -- "this is
quite a remarkable silence on the part of Toby Dammit, and is no doubt a
consequence of his verbosity upon a previous occasion. One extreme induces
another. I wonder if he has forgotten the many unanswerable questions
which he propounded to me so fluently on the day when I gave him my last
lecture? At all events, he is cured of the transcendentals."

"Ahem!" here replied Toby, just as if he had been reading my thoughts, and
looking like a very old sheep in a revery.

The old gentleman now took him by the arm, and led him more into the shade
of the bridge -- a few paces back from the turnstile. "My good fellow,"
said he, "I make it a point of conscience to allow you this much run. Wait
here, till I take my place by the stile, so that I may see whether you go
over it handsomely, and transcendentally, and don't omit any flourishes of
the pigeon-wing. A mere form, you know. I will say 'one, two, three, and
away.' Mind you, start at the word 'away'" Here he took his position by
the stile, paused a moment as if in profound reflection, then looked up
and, I thought, smiled very slightly, then tightened the strings of his
apron, then took a long look at Dammit, and finally gave the word as
agreed upon-

_One -- two -- three -- and -- away!_

Punctually at the word "away," my poor friend set off in a strong gallop.
The stile was not very high, like Mr. Lord's -- nor yet very low, like
that of Mr. Lord's reviewers, but upon the whole I made sure that he would
clear it. And then what if he did not? -- ah, that was the question --
what if he did not? "What right," said I, "had the old gentleman to make
any other gentleman jump? The little old dot-and-carry-one! who is he? If
he asks me to jump, I won't do it, that's flat, and I don't care who the
devil he is." The bridge, as I say, was arched and covered in, in a very
ridiculous manner, and there was a most uncomfortable echo about it at all
times -- an echo which I never before so particularly observed as when I
uttered the four last words of my remark.

But what I said, or what I thought, or what I heard, occupied only an
instant. In less than five seconds from his starting, my poor Toby had
taken the leap. I saw him run nimbly, and spring grandly from the floor of
the bridge, cutting the most awful flourishes with his legs as he went up.
I saw him high in the air, pigeon-winging it to admiration just over the
top of the stile; and of course I thought it an unusually singular thing
that he did not continue to go over. But the whole leap was the affair of
a moment, and, before I had a chance to make any profound reflections,
down came Mr. Dammit on the flat of his back, on the same side of the
stile from which he had started. At the same instant I saw the old
gentleman limping off at the top of his speed, having caught and wrapt up
in his apron something that fell heavily into it from the darkness of the
arch just over the turnstile. At all this I was much astonished; but I had
no leisure to think, for Dammit lay particularly still, and I concluded
that his feelings had been hurt, and that he stood in need of my
assistance. I hurried up to him and found that he had received what might
be termed a serious injury. The truth is, he had been deprived of his
head, which after a close search I could not find anywhere; so I
determined to take him home and send for the homoeopathists. In the
meantime a thought struck me, and I threw open an adjacent window of the
bridge, when the sad truth flashed upon me at once. About five feet just
above the top of the turnstile, and crossing the arch of the foot-path so
as to constitute a brace, there extended a flat iron bar, lying with its
breadth horizontally, and forming one of a series that served to
strengthen the structure throughout its extent. With the edge of this
brace it appeared evident that the neck of my unfortunate friend had come
precisely in contact.

He did not long survive his terrible loss. The homoeopathists did not give
him little enough physic, and what little they did give him he hesitated
to take. So in the end he grew worse, and at length died, a lesson to all
riotous livers. I bedewed his grave with my tears, worked a bar sinister
on his family escutcheon, and, for the general expenses of his funeral,
sent in my very moderate bill to the transcendentalists. The scoundrels
refused to pay it, so I had Mr. Dammit dug up at once, and sold him for
dog's meat.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



I WILL now play the Oedipus to the Rattleborough enigma. I will expound to
you -- as I alone can -- the secret of the enginery that effected the
Rattleborough miracle -- the one, the true, the admitted, the undisputed,
the indisputable miracle, which put a definite end to infidelity among the
Rattleburghers and converted to the orthodoxy of the grandames all the
carnal-minded who had ventured to be sceptical before.

This event -- which I should be sorry to discuss in a tone of unsuitable
levity -- occurred in the summer of 18--. Mr. Barnabas Shuttleworthy --
one of the wealthiest and most respectable citizens of the borough -- had
been missing for several days under circumstances which gave rise to
suspicion of foul play. Mr. Shuttleworthy had set out from Rattleborough
very early one Saturday morning, on horseback, with the avowed intention
of proceeding to the city of-, about fifteen miles distant, and of
returning the night of the same day. Two hours after his departure,
however, his horse returned without him, and without the saddle-bags which
had been strapped on his back at starting. The animal was wounded, too,
and covered with mud. These circumstances naturally gave rise to much
alarm among the friends of the missing man; and when it was found, on
Sunday morning, that he had not yet made his appearance, the whole borough
arose en masse to go and look for his body.

The foremost and most energetic in instituting this search was the bosom
friend of Mr. Shuttleworthy -- a Mr. Charles Goodfellow, or, as he was
universally called, "Charley Goodfellow," or "Old Charley Goodfellow."
Now, whether it is a marvellous coincidence, or whether it is that the
name itself has an imperceptible effect upon the character, I have never
yet been able to ascertain; but the fact is unquestionable, that there
never yet was any person named Charles who was not an open, manly, honest,
good-natured, and frank-hearted fellow, with a rich, clear voice, that did
you good to hear it, and an eye that looked you always straight in the
face, as much as to say: "I have a clear conscience myself, am afraid of
no man, and am altogether above doing a mean action." And thus all the
hearty, careless, "walking gentlemen" of the stage are very certain to be
called Charles.

Now, "Old Charley Goodfellow," although he had been in Rattleborough not
longer than six months or thereabouts, and although nobody knew any thing
about him before he came to settle in the neighborhood, had experienced no
difficulty in the world in making the acquaintance of all the respectable
people in the borough. Not a man of them but would have taken his bare
word for a thousand at any moment; and as for the women, there is no
saying what they would not have done to oblige him. And all this came of
his having been christened Charles, and of his possessing, in consequence,
that ingenuous face which is proverbially the very "best letter of

I have already said that Mr. Shuttleworthy was one of the most respectable
and, undoubtedly, he was the most wealthy man in Rattleborough, while "Old
Charley Goodfellow" was upon as intimate terms with him as if he had been
his own brother. The two old gentlemen were next-door neighbours, and,
although Mr. Shuttleworthy seldom, if ever, visited "Old Charley," and
never was known to take a meal in his house, still this did not prevent
the two friends from being exceedingly intimate, as I have just observed;
for "Old Charley" never let a day pass without stepping in three or four
times to see how his neighbour came on, and very often he would stay to
breakfast or tea, and almost always to dinner, and then the amount of wine
that was made way with by the two cronies at a sitting, it would really be
a difficult thing to ascertain. "Old Charleys" favorite beverage was
Chateau-Margaux, and it appeared to do Mr. Shuttleworthy's heart good to
see the old fellow swallow it, as he did, quart after quart; so that, one
day, when the wine was in and the wit as a natural consequence, somewhat
out, he said to his crony, as he slapped him upon the back -- "I tell you
what it is, 'Old Charley,' you are, by all odds, the heartiest old fellow
I ever came across in all my born days; and, since you love to guzzle the
wine at that fashion, I'll be darned if I don't have to make thee a
present of a big box of the Chateau-Margaux. Od rot me," -- (Mr.
Shuttleworthy had a sad habit of swearing, although he seldom went beyond
"Od rot me," or "By gosh," or "By the jolly golly,") -- "Od rot me," says
he, "if I don't send an order to town this very afternoon for a double box
of the best that can be got, and I'll make ye a present of it, I will! --
ye needn't say a word now -- I will, I tell ye, and there's an end of it;
so look out for it -- it will come to hand some of these fine days,
precisely when ye are looking for it the least!" I mention this little bit
of liberality on the part of Mr. Shuttleworthy, just by way of showing you
how very intimate an understanding existed between the two friends.

Well, on the Sunday morning in question, when it came to be fairly
understood that Mr. Shuttleworthy had met with foul play, I never saw any
one so profoundly affected as "Old Charley Goodfellow." When he first
heard that the horse had come home without his master, and without his
master's saddle-bags, and all bloody from a pistol-shot, that had gone
clean through and through the poor animal's chest without quite killing
him; when he heard all this, he turned as pale as if the missing man had
been his own dear brother or father, and shivered and shook all over as if
he had had a fit of the ague.

At first he was too much overpowered with grief to be able to do any thing
at all, or to concert upon any plan of action; so that for a long time he
endeavored to dissuade Mr. Shuttleworthy's other friends from making a
stir about the matter, thinking it best to wait awhile -- say for a week
or two, or a month, or two -- to see if something wouldn't turn up, or if
Mr. Shuttleworthy wouldn't come in the natural way, and explain his
reasons for sending his horse on before. I dare say you have often
observed this disposition to temporize, or to procrastinate, in people who
are labouring under any very poignant sorrow. Their powers of mind seem to
be rendered torpid, so that they have a horror of any thing like action,
and like nothing in the world so well as to lie quietly in bed and "nurse
their grief," as the old ladies express it -- that is to say, ruminate
over the trouble.

The people of Rattleborough had, indeed, so high an opinion of the wisdom
and discretion of "Old Charley," that the greater part of them felt
disposed to agree with him, and not make a stir in the business "until
something should turn up," as the honest old gentleman worded it; and I
believe that, after all this would have been the general determination,
but for the very suspicious interference of Mr. Shuttleworthy's nephew, a
young man of very dissipated habits, and otherwise of rather bad
character. This nephew, whose name was Pennifeather, would listen to
nothing like reason in the matter of "lying quiet," but insisted upon
making immediate search for the "corpse of the murdered man. -- This was
the expression he employed; and Mr. Goodfellow acutely remarked at the
time, that it was "a singular expression, to say no more." This remark of
'Old Charley's,' too, had great effect upon the crowd; and one of the
party was heard to ask, very impressively, "how it happened that young Mr.
Pennifeather was so intimately cognizant of all the circumstances
connected with his wealthy uncle's disappearance, as to feel authorized to
assert, distinctly and unequivocally, that his uncle was 'a murdered
man.'" Hereupon some little squibbing and bickering occurred among various
members of the crowd, and especially between "Old Charley" and Mr.
Pennifeather -- although this latter occurrence was, indeed, by no means a
novelty, for no good will had subsisted between the parties for the last
three or four months; and matters had even gone so far that Mr.
Pennifeather had actually knocked down his uncles friend for some alleged
excess of liberty that the latter had taken in the uncle's house, of which
the nephew was an inmate. Upon this occasion "Old Charley" is said to have
behaved with exemplary moderation and Christian charity. He arose from the
blow, adjusted his clothes, and made no attempt at retaliation at all --
merely muttering a few words about "taking summary vengeance at the first
convenient opportunity," -- a natural and very justifiable ebullition of
anger, which meant nothing, however, and, beyond doubt, was no sooner
given vent to than forgotten.

However these matters may be (which have no reference to the point now at
issue), it is quite certain that the people of Rattleborough, principally
through the persuasion of Mr. Pennifeather, came at length to the
determination of dispersion over the adjacent country in search of the
missing Mr. Shuttleworthy. I say they came to this determination in the
first instance. After it had been fully resolved that a search should be
made, it was considered almost a matter of course that the seekers should
disperse -- that is to say, distribute themselves in parties -- for the
more thorough examination of the region round about. I forget, however, by
what ingenious train of reasoning it was that "Old Charley" finally
convinced the assembly that this was the most injudicious plan that could
be pursued. Convince them, however, he did -- all except Mr. Pennifeather,
and, in the end, it was arranged that a search should be instituted,
carefully and very thoroughly, by the burghers en masse, "Old Charley"
himself leading the way.

As for the matter of that, there could have been no better pioneer than
"Old Charley," whom everybody knew to have the eye of a lynx; but,
although he led them into all manner of out-of-the-way holes and corners,
by routes that nobody had ever suspected of existing in the neighbourhood,
and although the search was incessantly kept up day and night for nearly a
week, still no trace of Mr. Shuttleworthy could be discovered. When I say
no trace, however, I must not be understood to speak literally, for trace,
to some extent, there certainly was. The poor gentleman had been tracked,
by his horses shoes (which were peculiar), to a spot about three miles to
the east of the borough, on the main road leading to the city. Here the
track made off into a by-path through a piece of woodland -- the path
coming out again into the main road, and cutting off about half a mile of
the regular distance. Following the shoe-marks down this lane, the party
came at length to a pool of stagnant water, half hidden by the brambles,
to the right of the lane, and opposite this pool all vestige of the track
was lost sight of. It appeared, however, that a struggle of some nature
had here taken place, and it seemed as if some large and heavy body, much
larger and heavier than a man, had been drawn from the by-path to the
pool. This latter was carefully dragged twice, but nothing was found; and
the party was upon the point of going away, in despair of coming to any
result, when Providence suggested to Mr. Goodfellow the expediency of
draining the water off altogether. This project was received with cheers,
and many high compliments to "Old Charley" upon his sagacity and
consideration. As many of the burghers had brought spades with them,
supposing that they might possibly be called upon to disinter a corpse,
the drain was easily and speedily effected; and no sooner was the bottom
visible, than right in the middle of the mud that remained was discovered
a black silk velvet waistcoat, which nearly every one present immediately
recognized as the property of Mr. Pennifeather. This waistcoat was much
torn and stained with blood, and there were several persons among the
party who had a distinct remembrance of its having been worn by its owner
on the very morning of Mr. Shuttleworthy's departure for the city; while
there were others, again, ready to testify upon oath, if required, that
Mr. P. did not wear the garment in question at any period during the
remainder of that memorable day, nor could any one be found to say that he
had seen it upon Mr. P.'s person at any period at all subsequent to Mr.
Shuttleworthy's disappearance.

Matters now wore a very serious aspect for Mr. Pennifeather, and it was
observed, as an indubitable confirmation of the suspicions which were
excited against him, that he grew exceedingly pale, and when asked what he
had to say for himself, was utterly incapable of saying a word. Hereupon,
the few friends his riotous mode of living had left him, deserted him at
once to a man, and were even more clamorous than his ancient and avowed
enemies for his instantaneous arrest. But, on the other hand, the
magnanimity of Mr. Goodfellow shone forth with only the more brilliant
lustre through contrast. He made a warm and intensely eloquent defence of
Mr. Pennifeather, in which he alluded more than once to his own sincere
forgiveness of that wild young gentleman -- "the heir of the worthy Mr.
Shuttleworthy," -- for the insult which he (the young gentleman) had, no
doubt in the heat of passion, thought proper to put upon him (Mr.
Goodfellow). "He forgave him for it," he said, "from the very bottom of
his heart; and for himself (Mr. Goodfellow), so far from pushing the
suspicious circumstances to extremity, which he was sorry to say, really
had arisen against Mr. Pennifeather, he (Mr. Goodfellow) would make every
exertion in his power, would employ all the little eloquence in his
possession to -- to -- to -- soften down, as much as he could
conscientiously do so, the worst features of this really exceedingly
perplexing piece of business."

Mr. Goodfellow went on for some half hour longer in this strain, very much
to the credit both of his head and of his heart; but your warm-hearted
people are seldom apposite in their observations -- they run into all
sorts of blunders, contre-temps and mal apropos-isms, in the
hot-headedness of their zeal to serve a friend -- thus, often with the
kindest intentions in the world, doing infinitely more to prejudice his
cause than to advance it.

So, in the present instance, it turned out with all the eloquence of "Old
Charley"; for, although he laboured earnestly in behalf of the suspected,
yet it so happened, somehow or other, that every syllable he uttered of
which the direct but unwitting tendency was not to exalt the speaker in
the good opinion of his audience, had the effect to deepen the suspicion
already attached to the individual whose cause he pleaded, and to arouse
against him the fury of the mob.

One of the most unaccountable errors committed by the orator was his
allusion to the suspected as "the heir of the worthy old gentleman Mr.
Shuttleworthy." The people had really never thought of this before. They
had only remembered certain threats of disinheritance uttered a year or
two previously by the uncle (who had no living relative except the
nephew), and they had, therefore, always looked upon this disinheritance
as a matter that was settled -- so single-minded a race of beings were the
Rattleburghers; but the remark of "Old Charley" brought them at once to a
consideration of this point, and thus gave them to see the possibility of
the threats having been nothing more than a threat. And straightway
hereupon, arose the natural question of cui bono? -- a question that
tended even more than the waistcoat to fasten the terrible crime upon the
young man. And here, lest I may be misunderstood, permit me to digress for
one moment merely to observe that the exceedingly brief and simple Latin
phrase which I have employed, is invariably mistranslated and
misconceived. "Cui bono?" in all the crack novels and elsewhere, -- in
those of Mrs. Gore, for example, (the author of "Cecil,") a lady who
quotes all tongues from the Chaldaean to Chickasaw, and is helped to her
learning, "as needed," upon a systematic plan, by Mr. Beckford, -- in all
the crack novels, I say, from those of Bulwer and Dickens to those of
Bulwer and Dickens to those of Turnapenny and Ainsworth, the two little
Latin words cui bono are rendered "to what purpose?" or, (as if quo bono,)
"to what good." Their true meaning, nevertheless, is "for whose
advantage." Cui, to whom; bono, is it for a benefit. It is a purely legal
phrase, and applicable precisely in cases such as we have now under
consideration, where the probability of the doer of a deed hinges upon the
probability of the benefit accruing to this individual or to that from the
deed's accomplishment. Now in the present instance, the question cui bono?
very pointedly implicated Mr. Pennifeather. His uncle had threatened him,
after making a will in his favour, with disinheritance. But the threat had
not been actually kept; the original will, it appeared, had not been
altered. Had it been altered, the only supposable motive for murder on the
part of the suspected would have been the ordinary one of revenge; and
even this would have been counteracted by the hope of reinstation into the
good graces of the uncle. But the will being unaltered, while the threat
to alter remained suspended over the nephew's head, there appears at once
the very strongest possible inducement for the atrocity, and so concluded,
very sagaciously, the worthy citizens of the borough of Rattle.

Mr. Pennifeather was, accordingly, arrested upon the spot, and the crowd,
after some further search, proceeded homeward, having him in custody. On
the route, however, another circumstance occurred tending to confirm the
suspicion entertained. Mr. Goodfellow, whose zeal led him to be always a
little in advance of the party, was seen suddenly to run forward a few
paces, stoop, and then apparently to pick up some small object from the
grass. Having quickly examined it he was observed, too, to make a sort of
half attempt at concealing it in his coat pocket; but this action was
noticed, as I say, and consequently prevented, when the object picked up
was found to be a Spanish knife which a dozen persons at once recognized
as belonging to Mr. Pennifeather. Moreover, his initials were engraved
upon the handle. The blade of this knife was open and bloody.

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